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tv   Charlie Rose  WHUT  November 30, 2009 9:00am-10:00am EST

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>> rose: welcome to the broadcast. tonight maziar bahari the "newsweek" reporter who was held in a tehran prison for 118 days. >> they arrested me because i was a filmmaker and a journalist. so by arresting me they were going to teach a less on to journalists and film make ares. and at the same time i was working for the american media and the british media. so they were teaching a lesson to the british and american media. also, i had some friends inside the iranian government, inside the minister of interior, minister of foreign affairs, culture, even minister of intelligence. and the revolutionary guards, they wanted to tell those people that we can do what we ever -- whatever we want. >> rose: also this evening the filmmaker john woo whose film is called "red clip" >> i met the, you know, some of the young people from china, you know, they all
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have a great passion about movies. they all eager to learn. they all want to learn how to make a hollywood type big budget movies. they all want to learn some new experience. that -- that's one of the biggest reasons i wanted to go back to make that movie. >> rose: a program tote, wes anderson the filmmaker schedule for this evening to talk about his new film, the fantastic mr. fox will be here on monday night. tonight maziar bahari and john woo. next. >> funding for charlie rose has been provided by the following:. >
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. maziar bahari is here. he is a native iranian, a "newsweek" reporter and film maker who is reporting on the iranian election when he was arrested and held in evan prison for 118ays. during that time he was tortured and threatened with execution. during his detention "newsweek" magazine, the american government and others pressured iranian officials to release him. reporters ask about his case in interviews and conversations with the iranian government. >> maziar bahari, the "newsweek" journalist, a lot of us in this context are concerned about him and his
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release. >> i hope all prisoners are released. i really do also. but i think that someone should also be concerned about the iranian nation. >> rose: maziar was released last month and rejoined his wife and newborn child in london. he has begun to write and talk about his experiences. here is his a experience -- appearance on the cbs news program "60 minutes" last sunday. >> maziar bahari took the risk of shooting theseues whichn anything else would later get him into trouble with the regime. he filmeda group of demonstrators attacking a base of the was i believe, of the rev use leer guard. they're throwing rocks. >> they're throwing rocks, they're throwing molotov cocktail. >> that was a molotov cocktail. >> exactly. >> the demonstrators just keep on going. >> that's it.
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>> that's the basij firing. >> basij firing at the people. they are going to shoot this man. >> he's been shot. >> he's been shot. >> was he killed. >> he was killed, yes. >> rose: and maziar bahari has written of his experiences in a "newsweek" cover story, it is titled 118 days in hell. i'm pleased to have him join me now in this studio to talk about what has to be a at best a harrowing experience never to know as you go in whether you will ever come out. so thank you for coming. >> nice to be here, charlie. >> tell me about this. "newsweek" cover story gives 118 days in hell. walk us through it. >> well, i was arrested last june on the 21st of june. four people came to my mother's house. i was asleep. it was around 7:45 in the
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morning, i think. i smelled the people before i saw them. i could smell and mixture of road water and sweat which is a very typical smell of iranian officials because they do their evolutions before prayer t they don't take shower. so they compensate by putting rose water perfume on. and my mother came to the room and she said that dear, there are four people who want to take you away. they searched my house. they confiscated some tapesc and some cameras. and my laptops. they took me outside. they put me a car. there were five cars waiting outside. what was interesting that there were two women police officers outside, two women revolutionary guard. they had their whole, you know, the black, or their veil on and they had their ak-47 under the chadors. i guess they were there
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because if i wanted to escape they could catch me. so we drove north from my mother's house and i asked my -- the person who was in the car with me whether we are ing to a notorious evan pli son or not. there. we may not. so everything was uncertain from the beginning. when they showed me the arrest warrants, it said that you have undermined the security of the state and you have propagated against the holy islamic republic government. we went to evan prison. they put a blindfold on me and they put me in my cell. after half an hour they took me to the interrogation room and my interrogater said that mr. bahari, you have been masterminding the western media in iran. and we know that you are spying for four intelligence agencies. and i asked them -- asked him could you be kind enough to tell me which agencies they are? >> and he sd israeli,
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american cia, british mi 6 and "newsweek" magazine. there and then i knew that i was part of a scenario. i knew that the revolutionary guard and the supreme leader ayatollah khamenei, his office, they had a scenario and i was supposed to play a role in the scenario. and whatever questions they were going to ask me, it was not to get accurate information from me. it was for them to put me in the scenario. i had to fit the scenario. >> you were a prop and a player and a piece to be moved around. >> exactly. >> rose: to make their propaganda point. >> and you know it was very strange. it reminded me a lot of a bad hollywood film. you know, they had a lot of resources. they had big production but the script was really bad. it was maybe an iranian version of -- water world. they kept on changing the scenario, the plot.
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>> rose: what does that say to y that they didn't do it well. if they wanted to be more adept at it they might have done it in a different way. why the heavy-handedness? >> because i think they were taken by surprise by the amount of people who came to the streets and demonstrated peacefully against ahmadinejad's re-election. so they wanted to tell their supporters and iranian public who did not take part in the demonstrations that these demonstrations were orchestrated by the west and especially the western media. as you know, eyea khamenei started talking about this soft war against iran, by the west. and by soft war he means the war that is staged by the western media. and he actually, my interrogater called me a peaceful terrorist. and he told me that mr. bahari, you are a peaceful terrorist. and because of that you are more dangerous than anyone who kills and assassinates people.
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because those people they just kill one person or destroy one individual. but you, you corrupt minds. and it is just that they didn't know what to do with maybe half of the population who rose against ahmadinejad and vicariously against khamenei's rule. >> so where is it today. i mean this surprise and now we see people being condemned and we see people being executed. do they think that they can get past this or do they look at this as an ongoing battle for a long time? >> hy think they can succeed. you see, the iranian government, the revolutionary part, especially, they're a mixture of high degree of inferiority complex and at the same time a superiority complex. it is a very schizophrenic institution. on one hand they think that they are a superpower. my interrogater told me that the americans, america is waning, america's power is
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waning and we are going to be the superpower very soon. and we have allies all over the world, all over the region in lebanon, in iraq, in afghanistan, in venezuela, in bolivia. but at the same time they are afraid of individuals like me who are just doing their jobs, you know. i don't have that much power. most of these people that they arrested are just individuals and they were just demonstrating peacefully. so that is the mentality of the revolutionary guard. >> rose: are they surprised that there is that kind of hostility and that kind of in depth and in width of protest against them? >> yeah, i think they are -- they were surprised in the beginning. but then they enjoyed it. the reason i'm saying is that the revolutionary guard, they only thrive in chaos. they cannot operate in a normal situation. if there is any sense of normal see and transparency, that is the end of them because they are corrupt. they do many things
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surreptitiously, they have these foundations that are just answerable to the supreme leader. and they just do whatever they want in this very closed, corrupt circumstances. >> rose: tell us who the revolutionary guards are. >> the revolutionary guards started at the beginning of the revolution as an alternative to the iranian army because the new islamic government in 1979, they could not trust the iranian army. so many revolutionaries in the beginning of the revolution who ironically became reformists later on, they startedhe revolutionary guard. and after ayatollah khamenei's death in 1989 when eyea khamenei became his successor, he started to give more power to the revolutionary guards. and he started to groom the revolutionary guards as his only power base. so in the last 20 years the revolutionary guard have been growing gradually. and right now they are not only the strongest army in
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iran, they also, they are the strongest industrialists. they have many front companies not only in iran. >> rose: the strongest industrialists. >> industrialists. they have taken over many privatized industries. in the last four years of ahmadinejad's government, they have privatized many national industries. and the revolutionary guard, they have bought the shares. recently they boug the telecommunications company. and through that, they not only make a lot of money, but in effect, they also control all the land line communications. and soon they will start their own mobile communications and they can control that as well. they are also in chargef iranian nuclear program right now. which is the most dangerous development. you know, in the '80s the iranian army started the nuclear program but recently the revolutionary guard took over. >> rose: ahmadinejad asked for the nuclear program himself. >> exactly. not only the nuclear program but also the revolutionary guards, they have taken over
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the intelligence apparatus. and there has been a massive purge in the minister of information, minister of intelligence. an many professionals in minister of intelligence have been fired and they've been replaced by revolutionary guard. >> rose: so effectively running the state of iran. >> effectively they have started to gain more control of the government. we cannot say that they are running it 100 percent. but they are gaping all the strategic positions, including the foreign policy, including the nuclear program. >> rose: we used to always operate under the idea as you well know that the eyea had control of the national security apparatus and that it was those particular levers oauthority that he used, notwithstanding who was president. >> it's true. it is still somewhat true. right now we can describe the power structure in iran as a triangle. ayatollah khamenei, the revolutionary guard and president ahmadinejad in the same order of --.
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>> rose: it's a triangle. >> it's a triangle. and each of these groups, they kind of po -- empower each other in order to garner more support and power for themselve. but the revolutionary guard, because of their nature, because they have more arms than share supreme leader and the president and because they have more money and more access to different resources, they are gaining more support. they are gaining more power. and soon we n see that they will become even more powerful than eyea khamenei. so in effect right nowak ak is basically, we can say that he is a stooge of the revotionary guard. >> rose: we can say that. >> we can say that. and --. >> rose: so he does nothing without their approval and consent. >> he cannot do anything. but he's gaining more -- i mean and he is catering to their demands. there are many cabinet ministers in ahmadinejad's government who are former revolutionary guards.
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and also he was a revolutionary guard himself. but the most important thing is that they are gaining more power than khamenei himself. so soon they will run the show and khamenei has to listen what they --. >> rose: and they will pick the next eyea. >> they can either pick the next eyea, the supreme leader or they can just say that we don't need a supreme leader. right now iran is becoming more of a military dictatorship. >> rose: is that the biggest story in iran, that iran is becoming a military dichp by the name of the revolutionary guard. >> exactly. because the regime, most religious people don't believe in this regime any more. and most religious people, they don't see this regime as a legitimate regime and eye tolda khamenei as a legitimate leader. and he fits that to himself. because he sided with ahmadinejad against all the other candidates before june selections. so in effect, he put himself against the people of iran. many people in iran.
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and as more dissent are in, as more factory workers coming to the street because they haven't received their wages, more farmers coming to the street because they can't tell their product, they are against khamenei and not the government of iran or the president any more. >> rose: and so where is the counterbalance? and how much strength and how much power and move up future does it have? >> well, right now we can say that the -- in the next few years and i don't know how many years t can be three years t can be five years, seven years, the revolutionary guards will win, will gain more power. and they will be ruling the country, in the foreseeable futurement but they will eventually fail because of their corruption and also because of their attempt to establish a dictatorship in iran. iran because of its multiculture nature, because
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of many ethnicities who live in iran, different religions, different languages, it can never be a dictatorship. the shah attempted to do that, he failed the. the revolutionary guards are not learning from the history. khamenei is not learning from history and he is repeating the same mistake. >> rose: what happens to mousavi. >> they they are not very effective. the revolutionary guards, they are smart enough not to arrest them so they allow them to say certain things. but caroubi can be arrested any day. >> rose: he has said enough to be arrested six months ago. >> and i think he -- he likes to be arrested. and the revolutionary guards. >> rose: why does he feel safe? >> it's just that that's a lesson that they have learned from the shah's regime that they don't want to create mar tirs p if they arrest them they will raise their profile and they will become martyrs and martyrdom
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is part and parcel ofa islam. so they are doing something smart and intelligent that they are not touching them now. but if house avi and core ubee start a more effective came taken -- campaign against the revolutionary guards they will be arrested by them. >> rose: did this administration make a mistake in not being much stronger in terms it of its support for house avi at the time? >> i think obama did not know exactly what to do in june. because it was a few months after he came to power. and i think that they still don't know what they are doing. but they are doing the right things. they a moving in the right direction. but they are just confused. they are as confused as the rest of the world are. but what is going on in iran. and also as confused about what is going on in iran as the people in iran are. because it's a very confusing situation, as i mentioned about my case, the plot was really convoluteed. the script was really convoluted and tsted. no one knew what was going on. so i mean i can just
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sympathize with secretary of state hillary clinton and president obama that they cannot fathom what is going on in iran. >> but do they have a card to play? >> i think they have a card to play. the most important card that they have is the president -- iran is in a region where rhetoric is more important than what they do. and if the president can charm iran's quote, unquote, allies and the countries -- can have a very effective policy in terms it of isolating iran and puts a lot of pressure on iran. >> but is there anything that the administration can do to engage the revolutionary guards? >> only through ahmadinejad? >> yes, i mean if you are engaging with the iranian government right now, you are in effect -- >> are you engaging with the revolutionary guards. and i think it's a correct policy to engage with the iranian government right now because they have to know
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that they have a big price to pay for what they are doing. and without engagement they would not know about that price. >> rose: and what price should be spelled out that they have to pay? >> isolation,. >> rose: sanctions. >> smart sanctions that don't hurt ode people as much as possible. >> rose: how do you do that, how do you create smart sanctions that don't hurt. >> that is the billion dollar question, yes. i think that some very smart people here in this country, they are working on it. but it has to be like that. because the regime can benefit from some sanctions. in my humble opinion, i think that the current administration, they have to pursue two policies. they have to support the human rights in iran and freedom of expression in iran. they have to support the peaceful demonstration in iran, people like muse avi and at the same time they have to be very vocal about the terrorist activities against iranian government. because right now there is a
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perception among some rational elements within the iranian government that the americans are supporting terrorist groups who are acting against the iranian government. >> rose: there are groups that are trying to overthrow -- >> the government through military means. >> rose: and has the cia supported those groups. >> in the past they have supported them. and the common perception among some rational elements within the regime is that they are still procrastinate being that. they may not be supporting them but they are thinking about that. >> rose: but the people without want to see pore democracy, want to see states, you know, is doing this and it's wrong and it gives them reason to be opposed to the united states. >> exactly. and worse than that, a lot of people in iran because of the fact that president obama is a realist and he is a pragmatic politician, they think that, and i mean i'm not saying that he is doing it but that is a common perception in iran that they
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think the american administration has reached a deal, has reached a grand bargain with iran that there are going to be quiet about human rights in iran and iranian government and the revolutionary guards will reach -- will make some sort of compromise what nuclear program and also security and peace and security in iraq and afghanistan. >> rose: how important are the nuclear program to the revolutionary guards? >> it's very important. i mean the worst thing that can happen to iran is a nuclear bomb. i am not suggesting that the fix day after they build the bomb they are going to attack israel or other countries. that's not going to be the case. but what the nuclear bomb will do is to bolster the confidence of the revolutionary guards. they will inteify their internal oppression of peaceful demonstrations. and also they will continue their expansion of polits
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in the diplomacy in the region and they will, right now they are just, they are very active in lebanon, of course, in iraq, somehow in afghanistan, yemen and they will continue doing that. it just makes them more bossier. >> rose: stake the smartest people you know and have contact with. what do they -- how close do you think they are to having the ability to make a weapon? >> they -- the people, i'm in contact with, they are not part of the nuclear program but from what i gathered,t is not far off. it's something that they can reach within the next few years. >> rose: is it something that in the end if everything else fails, a military solution is better than them having those bombs? >> i think it's just too premature to talk about a military solution. i think the military solution should not be even talked about at the moment. because we do not know how effective the military solution will be, it is
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counterproductive. >> it is a carrot and stick is there anything in terms of a carrot that could be done to influence the leaves of power in iran so that they accept the notion of having a stake in the world community, they are appreciated for the role they play in the region, that they have given a seat at the table so that the regime will change its behavior? >> the most important thick is to be voc against terrorist groups and separatist groups in iran. they are really frightening the iranian government, especially separatists. because as you know, iran is a country of different nationalities. and right now we have at least four different kind of separatist groups. balucci on the border of pakistan, the arabs on the border of iraq. the kurdist separatists and the turky separatists so we
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have all these groups. and the best thing for the american government to do right nows to be really vocal against terrorism, against the iranian government. >> why don't we? >> i am not sure. i think there is a per ception -- perception amongst some people in the american establishment, especially in the congress that they should support separatist groups and terrorist groups in order to put pressure on the iranian government. but what that does is to alienate the rational people inside the iranian governments. as you know, there was a letter by some people inside the iranian government in 2003. and they asked for a grand bargain. and part of that grand bargain is just to ban the mek which is a terrorist group based in iraq. and the american government they just ignored that. and they still -- >> this is senator power and colin powell and deputy
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secretararmitage at the time. >> exactly. >> this is a big debate in foreign policy circles as to how serious the opportunity was and not. >> but for a fact i know that shall did --. >> it was serious and it was an opportunity. >> it was serious and people close to khamenei wrote that letter. >> rose: now the interesting thing about that too for me is how much was it connected to the american invasion of iraq? >> it was very close. i mean -- >> they are doing this for male. we better make a deal. >> they were really scared at that time. you know after 9/11, and after the invasion of afghanistan the iranians became really scared. and the sign of their scared was that they did not, people did not chant "death to america" in friday prayers for a couple of weeks. and after the invasion of iraq the iranian establishment, they became scared as well. and that is why they wrote the letter to undersecretary arm stage. but-- armitaj, but because
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of eight years of bush administration and because of all the mistakes that happened during that time -- we are in the situation that we are in now. >> rose: what happened as you know better than i do, is rather than having that response, the evil empire speech came out. they became, you know --. >> exactly. >> rose: does it amaze you or not in terms of how much people operate out of that para and their fear, and the absence of real understanding about the other side, both ways, understanding what is going on in iran an iran understanding what is going on here. >> i can't talk about the iranian government and especially the revolutionary guard. i think that's part of their nature. if they were not paranoid, they would not be in a position --. >> rose: right. >> and you know --. >> rose: paranoid wouldn't want to make them part of the revolutionary guard. >> that all has been part -- para has been part of dick staterships in. part of the accusations that were made in the mass trial was the assassination of --
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and support for western imperialism, especially american imperialism so those people who were put on trial, they were portrayed as americans stooges and western imper all stooges. same thing happened, i don't know, 70 years later in the islamic republic. so it is the same par oy -- paras that what been happening and has been basically --. >> rose: yeah. >> you are obviously well-read guy. and you read the stories of the gulag and all the stories of where there has been a nazi germany and wherever there has been a state trying to crush people. did you -- within day one, 24 hou say oh my god, i am now a character of what i have been reading about all these years? >> exactly. i mean as soon as i stepped in evan prison i remembered all the interviews i had done with former prisoners in evan prison which was built in the shah's time.
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and i specifically remembered an interview i did with a communist activist who was in the shah's prison for 24 years. and he was in the islamic government for ten years. and he told me that being in the islamic prison for one day equals ten years in the shah's time. because the people who are in charge of pore turing people in islamic prisons now, they are the people who were tortured in the shah's time. so it is the torture who are becoming torture. and they now how effective it can be. an when i remembered that, you know, i also remembered all the defense mechanisms that he told me about. and i tried to, you know, do that myself. >> rose: what do you worry post about when you enter those circumstances. when somebody has total domination over your life. >> the worst fear, and you know the worst sense that you get is just to be isolated. and that no one cares about
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you. that you are alone. you know, one thing which was very smart that they did was to have an interrogater, one interrogater who was in charge of me for the whole time. so i did not feel that i was facing the state or facing the government it was an individual grudge. i was against this guy who i call mrrose water. >> rose: exactly. >> it was not the iranian government or the islamic republic against me. i had this guy who was controlling my life. and he was telling me that, you know, i am in charge of your life. i am your interrogater. he calls himself, i am your specialist. i can execute you. he told me, he was threatening me with execution for three months. he said that i am going to execute you one of these days u. will wake up one day, you will see the news in front of you. i will make sure that i will be the person who puts you in a chair, put thes into around your neck and i will be the one who will kick off
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the chair of your feet. and that is the worst fear that you can have. >> rose: you had no reason to know that he wasn't telling the truth. >> exactly. because that had happened it to many people before me. it was not something that he was just saying. it was something that happened to many people who i knew. >> and in fact there was a circumstances which you found out that when there was some debate about what to do about you, he voted for execution. >> am i right about that? >> not execution but my imprisonment and trial. in the last days, after i came out, my friend inside the anian government told me that the revolutionary guard did not want to release me. it was as you know, as you were part of it, i had to thank you actually for that, there was an international campaign for my release. and iranian government you know they just got tired of hearing about me because wherever they were going, you know, my case was
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raised. the rational people inside the government they wanted to release me. but the revolutionary guard and especially my specialist, they wanted me to have a lengthy sentence. i mean he was talking about 12, 15 years. >> what was that about, you do think? >> i think that he thought that he should teach a lesson to different people. you know, they arrested me because i was a filmmaker and a journalist. so by arresting me, they were going to teach a lesson to journalists and filmmakers. and at the same time i was working for the american media and the british media so they were teaching a lesson to the british and american media. also i had some friends inside the iranian government, inside the minister of interior, minister of foreign affairs, culture, even minister of intelligencement and the revolutionary guard, they wanted to tell those people that we can do whatever we want. and you can to the do anything about it. and by sentencing me to a lengthy sentence, i think that would be another reson
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for those people. fortunately i'm really grateful that -- >> what do you think happened, clearly "newsweek" was using every influence it had. >> yeah. >> i mean i really don't know. i don't know 100 percent what happened. but i am sure from what i am hearing is that the campaign, the international campaign worked. you see, "newsweek" and other, my other friends, my wife paula who was the main part of the campaign to release me, they were told in the beginning that we should just keep it quite. we should go through the back channels. we should not be vocal about his case. and i think if they pursued that policy i would have still been in jail. i think "newsweek" and others told the iranian government that you have to pay for what you have done. you have imprisoned an innocent man. and you should explain yourself. you should be accountable r what you have done.
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and also there were some people inside the iranian government who were lobbying on my behalf. who are trying to get me out because they thought it is not good for the procedure of the regime, for the prestige of the system as they call it. but i don't know 100 percent what happened. this is what i know right now. i'm still trying to figure out what happened. >> i can tell you that when i raised your case with president ahmadinejad, i mean and said you should do this, you should release him now, he looked at me like this is not the first time i've heard this. >> i think that was very important. i think the fact that you know people like you, fareed zakaria, they kept on mentioning my name is different interviews t was very important. it was very effective and that where i -- why i am here. >> what is interesting too is what else you learned from that about yourself. at one point you thought
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about suicide. you were going to use your glasses to, you know, nobody can understand the fear that you had to feel. >> yeah. >> and the sense that nobody may not anybody know. i don't know that my wife knows. >> exactly. >> they finally let you speak to her. >> they finally let me speak to her because they wanted me to tell her to shut up. and not to give interviews. and it was actually good because i knew she was doing the right thing there were two very good days during myips. the first one was after three months while my interrogater was telling me that no one cares about you and that you are isolated, that, you know, he came to my cell once and told me don't have you have a family. don't you have colleagues. >> those people, and you know, he was telling me i was really isolated. but after about three months, the prison guard that started to call me
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mr. hillary clinton. and when i asked him why are you calling me mr. hillary clinton, they said because hillary clinton talks about you. so there and then i knew that there was an international campaign. that secretary of state clinton is talking about me. because i'm not even an american. and then the second day which was very good for me --. >> rose: that was a great day. >> it was a great day. >> rose: that is what makes a difference, i think, when hillary clinton says it. >> it just gave me extra energy, you know. in prison, in my solitary confinement i di't have that much to do so i was doing push-ups and situps. i usually did about 500 situps and that day i had so much energy i did 650. and another day which was really good was when they asked me to talk to paula and tell her not to campaign for me. and i knew that she was doing exactly what she should do and she was doing the right thing. >> rose: you knew she was doing when they asked you to tell her. >> i toll her not to do things in a way that, we
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have a code between us so she knew exactly what to do. that she should continue and other friends knew what they were doing was right. because it was pissing them off. >> rose: why did you think about suicide? >> you know the worst thing about sol taree confinement besides sol taree confinement itself. >> rose: it's sol taree. >> exactly. in the could ran it says that the worst punishment that allah bestows pun the sinners is to make their grave smaller. when are you in a sol taree confinement you really think of yourself as your grave. and you actually see, you start to hall use nature and you see that the walls are getting closer to each other. and your grave is becoming smaller. so when someone is tell you yothat you are going to be executed every day and you are going to, you have no one who cares about you, and you don't knows what's going on, you just, you have the
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worst fears and i was looking at my glasses and i thought that, you know, i can just cut the left and just finish my life. >> rose: you thought how long would it take. >> how long would it take to bleed myself to death. then i thought about my family, my wife, my child and my mother. >> rose: you think about, according to this, i did this, i made a terrible mistake because my family is suffering now. and i put them in this place. >> yeah, that is the worst, that is really a bad feeling that without being guilty you feel guilty. that's the thing that they want you to believe. you know one of the last things, the last thing that my interrogater told me was that mr. bahari, we have agents all over the world. we can always bring you back in a bag. so he wanted me to feel that i would be doing the wrong thing by talking about what happened to me. that i should be responsible
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for my family. even when i'm not a prisoner any more. >> rose: thank you for coming. >> thanks, charlie. >> rose: john woo is here, he is a legendary director of action films. his work has influenced filmmakers from hong kong to hollywood. in 2003 "new york times" critic elvis mitchell wrote mr. woo's actionman motives have been looted so thoroughly by other filmmakers that he could qualify for a creative version of cpter 11. born and raised ina, mr. woo moved to the united states in 1992. his english language films include face-off and broken arrow. here is a look at some of his work .
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>> you lose. >> i still got my finger on the trig are. >>hat's the remote trigger. you see if i press this button here, you lose. and if i push this button, the weapon is disarmed. >> why don't you disarm it then? >> i'm not in the mood. >> why don't we just trade
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back. >> can't give back what you've taken from me. >> oh, well. plan b. let's just kill each other .
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>> rose: now john woo has returned to china to make what some are calling his best film yet. red cliff is a historic epic sent it portrays the battle whid the end of the hang dine knee, it has already earned the highest domestic gross in the history of chinese cinema. here is a look at the trailer.
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>> in a country shaken by years of civil war, a powerful war lord's quest for domination threatened all who stand in his way. >> now the destiny of an empire. and the fate of millions. ll dend on the fight of a few .
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>> from legendary director john woo comes a new epic like no other . >> red cliff, a john woo film. >> rose: i'm pleased to have john woo here, welcome. >> thank you. >> rose: you went back toa. because chin is where it's happening. because it's home.
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>> well, because it's home, of course. and also i have wanted to make this movie for over 20 years. >> rose: this movie. >> yeah, this movie. >> rose: why this movie? >> because i grew up with a story, there are so many hero i admire. and you also had gave me a lot of -- so after i have been working in hollywood for over 15 years, t really had made me learn a lot from so many great people, you know. i have learned so much from the technology, the working system. and i thought it's about time to bring what i have learned from hollywood intoa. >> rose: what is the status of the chinese film cinema? >> the prison -- it is
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business is growing now, and growing fast. gog back to the theatre, they love to watch all kind of movies. and they keep building the theatres. they also have the largest soundstage ina. they have all kinds, more modern facility and all the good equipment. so they all --. >> rose: how did you do decide when was the right time to go back. >> i met some of the young people froma. they all have a great passion about movies. they all eager to learn. they all want to learn how to make a hollywood type big budget movies. they all want to learn a new experience.
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that is one of the biggest reasons i wanted to go back to make that movie. >> rose: to be involved with all the young, enthusiastic people. >> yeah, yeah, the film people. >> rose: this is the biggest grossing film in china cinema history. >> yes. i have made a record. and it did extremely well in japan. broke a lot of records, so the young ae loved the movie so much, and they feel some of excitement about the film. >> will you stay in china? >> i like to work ina. and also --. >> rose: all over the world. >> i -- yeah, my home is in los angeles. but i also love to live in china as well. >> but they have much to do.
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we have a great culture, great history. they have so much good story with the town. so many things. >> what kinds of movies are you most comfortable making? >> well, like reckless t is a very challenge i also wish coy make musical. >> rose: a musical. >> i grew up with musical. i love musicals. you know what, i almost have a chance to make chicago. >> rose: did you. >> yeah. i somehow the --. >> rose: they came to see you. >> yeah, yeah, one of the producers had approached the idea to me but unfortunately i was working on something else. you know, so i am excited out a musical.
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i remember the first muse wall i saw was the "wizard of oz". >> rose: and loved it. >> yeah. and i have seen itso many musical. and i really want to make one. >> rose: let me take a look this is from red cliff is the name of this film. here it.
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>> there you go. >> rose: but you also say that there is a place for romance in action films. >> yh. i think that every movie no matter what kind, is a love story. so i want to try to make movies more of a romantic. >> rose: would you like to make a musical. would you like to make just a romantic story. >> yes, yeah, yeah, definitely.
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i am trying to make a love story for a long time but it is marred to -- hard to -- it is hard to make -- it is hard to convince people that i could make one. >> they want you to do what you have done. >> yeah. establish an action director so you know, they all want me to make big action movies. >> now this is the first epic you have made and is is the first period movie you have made. >> yeah. >> was that a challenge? >> it was a challenge. it seems to be, all needs to start from the beginning. the movie was so huge. so we had to sing a lot. do a lot of homework.
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>> how much of it is based on fact? >> about 50%. >> about 50%. >> so you took literary licence to make it a good story. >> yeah. because from the book you know, i meaned book, the romance of three kingdom its, actually it was a fiction. it wasn't really from the history. so they made upome of the character and there is some, you know, something really over the top. i tried to make all the characters more human instead of superhero. so. >> rose: you had a stunt man
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lose his life. >> yeah, very sad. >> rose: what happened? >> we were shooting the burning sea and there was, he -- i wasn't on the set. the thing was there was a scene, the heroes ship that ran into the enemies ando3 they were soldiers. they were standing there and you know, and there was quite a few explosions happen. and the had been rehearsing for so many times and then
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there were no problems. all of a sudden they start shooting, while they are shooting the scene, all of a sudden there was strong wind came from the other side and the wind blow the flame into 9 stunt man. it was purely by accident. one of the stunt man got kill kd, burned. >> rose: did you think about stopping the movie. >> yeah, i was -- you know, i was in hong kong at the time. i was so sad when i got the news. i stop the movie, trying to, you know --. >> rose: thank you, john, great to have you. >> thank you. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time.
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captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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